Just small potatoes (and ulluco)? The use of seed-size variation in "native commercialized" agriculture and agrobiodiversity conservation among Peruvian farmers

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Farmers of the Peruvian Andes make use of seed-size variation as a source of flexibility in the production of "native commercial" farmer varieties of Andean potatoes and ulluco. In a case study of eastern Cuzco, the use of varied sizes of seed tubers is found to underpin versatile farm strategies suited to partial commercialization (combined with on-farm consumption and the next season's seed). Use of seed-size variation also provides adaptation to diverse soil-moisture environments. The importance and widespread use of seed-size variation among farmers is demonstrated in the emphasis and consistency of linguistic expressions about this trait. Small and small-medium seed is typically sown in the community's "Hill" unit of sub-humid, upper-elevation agriculture. Seed tubers of medium-size and larger are needed for drought-stressed locales in lower-elevation landscape units. Farm-level preferences for the seed-size of tubers also suggest potential relations to resource endowments of farm households and gender-related management, although these tendencies were not statistically significant in the study. An intra-varietal, landscape-environmental perspective on seed-size management, which includes an emphasis on within-field versatility, helps to strengthen the research support of local seed production in policies and programs aiming for in situ agrobiodiversity conservation, marketing capacity, and food security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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